28

I had one interview with a recruiter and the next was with the head of the department.

The online interview was scheduled for 45 minutes and I felt it started going downhill after 10 minutes. I base this on that the interviewer was pretty excited the first few minutes but then changed and showed no interest.

I know I messed up by being really nervous. What can I do in a situation like this? I tried to keep on talking to show my interest in the position, but I felt like it was going nowhere because I was the only one talking.

Would it be productive to recover the interview by saying something like this? "Hey, I interviewed several people myself and I get the feeling you have already made up your mind. I just want to add that I am highly interested in this position and I hope that you will give me the opportunity to show it during the next step".

4
  • 24
    "Hey, I interviewed several people myself and I get the feeling you have already made up your mind. I just want to add that I am highly interested in this position and I hope that you will give me the opportunity to show it during the next step" That sounds quite contradictive and will leave the interviewer puzzled..
    – iLuvLogix
    Aug 19 at 9:15
  • Do you think it's more likely they'll invite you to the next step if you try to end the interview when you've only answered some of the questions they wanted answered in this interview and their impression of you is worse, or if you've answered all questions they had as best you can and asked some good ones in return? Aug 19 at 18:49
  • If you cant read minds with great accuracy outside of an interview, why are you thinking you can read them and know what the interviewer is thinking during an interview?
    – StingyJack
    Aug 22 at 3:37
  • Maybe there was an internet glitch, the image froze and you are imagining things. Aug 22 at 16:03
88

Hey, I interviewed several people myself and I get the feeling you have already made up your mind

This is hard to parse and sounds like you're criticising the interviewer. It would reinforce any negative impression of your communication and criticising your prospective boss is unlikely to help your case.

How about recognising that things aren't going well but assuming some responsibility yourself instead:

Sorry, I've been really nervous and don't think I'm making the best impression. I really am very interested in the position and think I have the attitude and skills to be a success in the role. [Insert any summary of why you're a great fit]. I hope to show this in the next stage.

11
  • 40
    Your second quote illustrates honesty, humility, self-awareness, and a desire to improve oneself. These are all things that many employers value highly.
    – bta
    Aug 19 at 18:28
  • 2
    'I am interested in the position' ? Aug 19 at 19:04
  • 3
    From the question it sounds like OP wants to end the interview early (and it's possible that the interviewer still had some questions). If you say this at that stage, the best case is that it just comes across as somewhat strange or awkward, which probably won't count in your favour. Also, if you say "I don't think I'm making the best impression", the other person is more likely to linger on whether or not you are making a good impression, and lingering tends to bias one towards the negative. In general I would suggest avoiding assertions about what the other person is thinking or feeling. Aug 19 at 19:18
  • 2
    @LamarLatrell ha, I read it as "I am very interested in the position that you are offering". But since I read your comment, I can't not read it as "I am very interested in YOUR position" (as in the interviewer's position) Aug 19 at 19:26
  • 1
    @Tom seriously? It's completely normal and commonplace for people to be nervous during an interview.
    – Kat
    Aug 22 at 19:09
42

Hey, I interviewed several people myself and I get the feeling you have already made up your mind.

If I hadn't made up my mind already, I probably would have after you said this. This kind of comments could be interpreted in all kinds of negative ways, such as "I know how to interview better than you do", or "I know that you're just stringing me along and wasting my time".

People are usually nervous in interviews, especially at the start, and it's completely normal. Just put it behind you, focus on the positives, and make a case for why they should hire you.

When you get to the end of the interview (and you've been talking for 45 minutes), you don't want to remind them of shaky start - you want them to go away remembering the positives and the enthusiasm at the end.

0
11

You’ve interviewed several people yourself. Have you ever turned down someone for being nervous? I guess some people do, but I wouldn’t want to work with someone like that. Nervousness shows you’re invested in the job.

A rough start doesn’t have to mean the interview is over. The last person I hired started out that way. As we continued talking it became apparent that he knows more than he was giving himself credit for. We were looking for someone who is smart but humble, so nervousness might have worked in his favor.

I’m about to start a job with a hiring manager I previously met at an interview at another company. He told me after the fact that he’d never seen anyone so nervous (I was physically shaking the whole time) but in spite of that the team was enthusiastically and unanimously in favor of hiring me. This will now be the fourth job working with that manager.

Don’t assume you know what the interviewer is thinking. That’s a drain on cognitive resources that you need for listening and responding. Stay optimistic and see what happens.

1
  • 3
    The personal perspective you added to this is priceless. Ultimately in an interview there are two things that are of interest: 1. Do you have the skills (or the ability to acquire the skills) to do the job, 2. Are you a person of character who would fit into the personnel/organization. Both of those allow room for people being nervous, because not everyone is a natural born conversationalist. Aug 21 at 20:17
7

Did they say they were no longer interested, or do you mean that their body language no longer conveyed interest? If the latter, were they taking notes at the time? This can distract the interviewer and they may forget to take the time to smile, laugh, make eye contact--all the things that reassure the candidate. This is even more likely if the interviewer is a technical professional themselves, since--at least for engineers--it's not uncommon for technical professionals (myself included) to be somewhat socially challenged at times, and stressful social situations where one has to multitask (note taking) only make it easier to forget to be polite.

Bottom line: unless they said they were no longer interested, I wouldn't put too much stock in their body language during an interview; you're likely not the only one who is nervous, and they are almost certainly multitasking and thus distracted. They may have forgotten their social skills in the mix.

And I definitely wouldn't send them a message saying you thought you'd blown it. It won't help you, and may hurt if you've misread the situation.

3
  • Exactly! Your answer + the @simonc's answer is some really helpful advice.
    – BryanH
    Aug 20 at 14:21
  • Thanks, I appreciate it!
    – bob
    Aug 20 at 15:22
  • 1
    This is especially true in the times of Zoom interviews. It's much harder to remember to visually engage with the computer than it is to remember to visually engage with someone that you're in the same room with. Also, Zoom often blurs the boundaries of "busy"...people are much more likely to message you despite a red dot with something "urgent" than they are to go hunt you down in a conference room and drag you away. Aug 20 at 16:42
7

In addition to these answers, I would also suggest to wrap up whatever you're saying and not try to fill potentially dead space with more talking. That's called "verbal diarrhea".

Wrap it up and then ask "does that answer your question?" Sometimes people just talk too much and then I become disinterested because it's no longer a spirited conversation, it's a droning boring monologue, sometimes not even answering the original question.

The back and forth also helps calm nerves because it's lots of opportunities to reengage and keep things moving.

4
  • I've let an interviewee wander off into the weeds to the point of boredom. Part of the point of the interview involves determining how the candidate interprets questions and how concisely they present information - because those skills are part of almost every job. Aug 21 at 20:22
  • @Steven I agree that letting a candidate 'hang themselves' is part of the point of an interview, especially when looking to avoid hiring inefficient communicators; however letting someone talk for a full 30 minutes to an hour is torture to me too. I'd rather see how they handle being refocused on the original question or the next one and try to make it at least somewhat worth my time. Also helps adding more reasons as to why we're passing on this person or relaxes them and the interview can be salvaged.
    – coblr
    Aug 23 at 18:52
  • The OP didn't imply that there was a lengthy period of non-interaction, but that interaction seemed one of losing interest. @coblr A 5-minute answer when 1-minute answer is expected is telling. Another interview strategy is to ask "imprecise" questions to see how the candidate navigates. In technical work it is rare to have a concisely defined problem. After repeated failures to seek clarification I would cut an interview short rather let it drone on. Aug 24 at 20:16
  • Sorry, I thought you did with the "I've let an interviewee wander off into the weeds to the point of boredom" statement. My bad.
    – coblr
    Aug 26 at 21:47
5

Another angle: Keep going even if just for the practice. If you stopped cold at every moment you failed an interview (hypothetically), you'll fail a lot more interviews until you get it right.

0
3

Some people don't have the energy to keep a positive vibe for 45 minutes, but that doesn't mean that they aren't great people to work for, or that they aren't interested in hiring you.

Strangely enough, in the last 20 years the interviews that I felt least positive about are at places I usually ended up working for. Fear or nervousness that the interview is going bad can give an adrenaline boost, try to focus that energy on the interview questions rather than any negative feelings. On the other hand, if you truly believe that the interview is a lost cause, just take a deep breath and relax, there's nothing left to loose. :-)

Also having been on both sides of the interview table, I know some people that try to test limits, both from a knowledge and soft skills perspective. Not that they are bad people to work with; they just want to know how other perspective team members respond under pressure.

I get the feeling you have already made up your mind

As others mentioned, it's a good idea to stay positive and avoid planting the idea that you're giving up, or criticizing the interviewer. Starting with a friendly smile and saying "sorry, I'm just a bit nervous" will sometimes indicate to the interviewer that the mood is a bit tense and often gets a favorable response.

1
  • 1
    As @James pointed out, interviewers are people too... You may have come across an interviewer who is distracted by a difficult work or personal situation, or who just isn't great at talking. Or one who was told to focus on some specific aspects and was already well satisfied by the answers given but felt the need to fill time until the next interviewer took over. It's also possible that there is a backchannel going where the recommendation to make a hire has ALREADY been made. It's happened during the course of some of my interviews. Aug 24 at 20:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .